Wollstonecraft - European Philosophy - Mary Wollstonecraft
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!


Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft was the most famous woman among the Enlightenment philosophers of the 1700s AD. Like Damaris Masham and Mary Astell in the 1600s, Wollstonecraft mainly argued that men should not prevent women from getting a good education. You think this is obvious? But Rousseau, just a few years earlier, had argued that men should not let women go to school, except to learn how to keep house and take care of children.

Wollstonecraft's brother had been sent to school, but she had not. She realized that if women got good educations, they would be able to reason as well as men, and that educating both men and women would help create a society based on reason rather than superstition or faith.

Wollstonecraft first supported herself with work as a governess, then she started and ran a school, and then she worked as a translator and writer. Like other Enlightenment philosophers, she did not marry, though she had several boyfriends. She wrote against the laws that gave some people - aristocrats or nobles - special privileges just because of who their parents were and how rich they were: she argued that all people should be equal under the law. And instead of some people being rich while others are poor, she thought each family should have a small farm that could support them.

When the French Revolution began in 1792, Wollstonecraft was so excited about it that she left England and went to France (along with Thomas Paine) to be part of the revolution there. But she was disappointed when it turned out that men got control of the revolution and did not end up allowing women to participate as equals. Wollstonecraft left France, where she had had her first child, and came back to England with the baby. She got pregnant again, and then decided to get married, but she died of an infection only a few days after her second baby was born. She was only 38 years old.

More about Thomas Paine
Go on to Hegel
European Women's History

Bibliography and further reading about Wollstonecraft:

Go on to Hegel
Modern Europe
Quatr.us home

LIMITED TIME OFFER FOR TEACHERS: Using this article with your class? Show us your class page where you're using this article, and we'll send you a free subscription so all your students can use Quatr.us Study Guides with no distractions! (Not a teacher? Paid subscriptions are also available for just $16/year!)
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more?
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 26 April, 2017